Jigsaw Blade Types 101 – Complete Guide

Cody
| Last Updated: April 12, 2021

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There are many different variations and combinations of jigsaw blades, all made for specialized tasks or cutting certain materials. In the article below, we'll discuss the many different blade types and their uses. 

TL;DR - Types of Jigsaw Blades

The several variations of jigsaw blades all have their own benefits and specific uses. Below is a list of the common types of Jigsaw blade variations. 

Jigsaw Blades by Type of Material

  • HCS (High Carbon Steel)
  • HSS (High-Speed Steel)
  • BIM (Bi-Metal)
  • TC (Tungsten Carbide)

Jigsaw Blades by Type of Shank 

  • T-Shank
  • U-Shank

Jigsaw Blades by Design

  • Reverse Tooth
  • Plunge Cut
  • Flush Cut
  • Knife Edge

Jigsaw Blades by Type of Material

What your blade is made from has a huge impact on what and how it can be used. Below are the most commonly found. 

HCS (High Carbon Steel) 

High Carbon Steel blades are composed of iron, carbon, and manganese and are primarily used to cut wood, laminates, and common plastics. They're the most commonly found in hardware stores and relatively inexpensive. 

The only issue is that they break relatively easily compared to other types of blades. However, they can be used on most standard materials, making them versatile. 

HSS (High-Speed Steel) 

A high-speed steel blade is used for cutting through ferrous and non-ferrous metals precisely. They're far more durable than the high carbon steel variation and will even survive higher temperatures for longer. 

Of course, after a while of regular high temperatures, it'll begin to wear the blade down. You'd expect to find a professional using this type of blade as it cuts tougher materials such as metal, MDF, and hardwood. 

BIM (Bi-Metal)

These blades are a hybrid of both HSS and HCS. The body of the blade is made from high carbon steel, which provides durability, and the teeth are made from high-speed steel to ensure it has the strength to cut through tough materials. 

By combining the two types, this blade is more versatile in terms of the materials it can be used on; it also lasts roughly ten times longer compared to the other blades themselves. 

TC (Tungsten Carbide)

As you may guess, these blades are made from carbon and tungsten; the shaft is made from standard steel. The defining feature of this blade is that it comprises an abrasive edge which allows each cut to be extra smooth. 

You'd primarily use these blades to cut brittle materials like ceramic, fiberglass, and reinforced plastic; they can also be used to cut through steel. They're the toughest and most expensive of options mentioned in this section. 

Jigsaw Blades by Type of Shank

Shanks are another key piece of information that'll need research as a shank relates to the mounting mechanism. There are two mounting shanks used which are discussed below. 

T-Shank 

T-shanks are otherwise known as tang shanks and are the most used and readily available as they're compatible with the most updated jigsaws. The shank is the piece that locks into the clamp of the jigsaw. You'll be able to use at-shank on most modern u-shank jigsaws too. The tang refers to the shape at the top of the shank, which is used so that tools aren't required. 

U-Shank

The U-shank also stands for the universal shank; this doesn't mean it can be used universally with any jigsaw. The "U" refers to the U shape at the top of the shank. These shanks require more tools to operate than a T-shank, which is why they're becoming less popular. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Jigsaw Blade

It's always good to know what exactly you're looking for in a jigsaw; in the section below, we'll discuss some important features and considerations to keep in mind. 

Comfort Is Key

You can get two different handle types on a jigsaw blade, the top handle or the barrel grip handle. Both of these handle variations have their own benefits. 

Top Handle - The most common types of handles currently available. The top handle provides the user enough security to grip the jigsaw with just one hand, which means you can grip the workpiece with the other. The vertical nub at the end provides an alternative gripping position for greater two-handed control. 

Barrel Grip Handle - The curved handle means that the user must grip the handle with one hand while the other is usually placed at the top for extra support. These handles are great for reducing the effects of vibration. 

Why Does TPI Matter? 

Teeth Per Inch is important to pay attention to, just like with any saw device, as the number of teeth will directly impact the quality of cut, along with the type of material it can cut. If you have a low TPI, the cut will be rougher, but if you have a higher TPI, the cut will be smoother. We'll talk more about the impact TPI has on different materials further down in the article. 

A Variable Pendulum Mechanism 

The pendulum mechanism can be altered to multiple different settings to increase the cutting speed. The cutting speed then affects the quality of the cut. Most modern jigsaws will have a variable-controlled pendulum with four separate speed levels. 

Without the variable pendulum, your jigsaw could be limited to just slower speeds and only being able to cut a handful of materials. The pendulum creates a rough cut; many users will remove it completely when they need a smooth cut.

Extra Bonus Features Are Always Great

Extra features are always great to have but never necessary. Many modern jigsaws will have a laser guide that can be activated to provide a straight guide for cutting. 

Another bonus feature could be the ability for a jigsaw to blow dust away as you cut. These are just two, but there are much more helpful bonus features out there. 

Which Jigsaw Blade Should I Use For...

With there being many different types of jigsaw blades out there, it can be confusing to understand which one will suit the task. Below is a simple "Cheat Sheet" to help you. 

  • Aluminum - HSS blade with between 20 & 24 TPI

  • Hard Wood - 12 to 20 TPI HSC or HSS blade

  • Soft Wood - 14 to 18 TPI HSC Blade

  • Plywood - 12 to 20 TPI HSC or HSS blade

  • Laminate Countertop - TC tipped blade

  • Plexiglass - TC tipped blade

Conclusion

Jigsaws blade types can come in many different combinations, but with every different combination, a new benefit can be exploited. The key is to understand these combinations; thankfully, we've explained everything you need to know above.